Friday, 22 June 2018

A village church near
Georgioupolis with an
interesting icon screen

The Church of Aghia Triada behind the narrow streets of Kalamitsi Alexandrou (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

After visiting the Monastery of Aghios Georgios in Karydi on the last day of this year’s holiday in Crete, I made my way back to Georgioupoli through the villages of Kalamitsi.

In reality, there are two villages with this name: Kalamitsi-Amigdali and Kalamitsi-Alexandrou – and they sometimes referred to as the ‘divided village.’ About 140 people live round the year in Kalamitsis Alexandrou, and about 210 in Kalamitsi Amygdali, or 350 permanent residents between the two.

Where one village stops, the next village begins. On some maps they are simply called Alexandrou and Amigdali, without the name Kalamitsi, while other maps do not make a difference and simply call the both Kalamitsi.

The two villages are also split between two administrations: Kalamitsi Alexandrou is in the municipality of Vamos Kalamitsi, while Kalamitsi Amygdali is in the municipality of Giorgioupolis.

These villages lie in the beautiful green Apokoronas area between Souda Bay and Rethymnon, about 8 km from Vamos and five minutes away from Vrysses, with a drive of less than 15 minutes to Georgioupoli on the coast.

Both Kalamitsi villages are peaceful, traditional, and offer beautiful views of the Lefka Ori or White Mountains. Between them there are two tavernas, a kafenion and a mini-market. Kalamitsi Alexandrou also has an impressive underground reservoir, Softas, constructed during the Turkish occupation of Crete.

Inside the Church of Aghia Triada in Kalamitsi Alexandrou (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

But the main purpose of my visit was to see the large, modern, cross-shaped Church of Aghia Triada or the Holy Trinity, behind the narrow streets in Kalamitsi Alexandrou.

Although it is not in the centre of the village, the church is impossible not to find at the end of the narrow streets. With its large narthex, and tall dome and belltowers, it can be seen for long distances across the surrounding countryside.

But the church has many other usual features too. Unlike many churches in Greece of this shape, the dome remains undecorated, without any Pantocrator and the usual supporting frescoes.

The dome of the church remains undecorated (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Indeed, the walls and pillars of the church are largely undecorated too, without frescoes, and the old icons preserved in the church, many predating its building in the last century, are in wooden frames that are seldom seen in Greek churches.

A framed icon of the Virgin Mary said to have been found in the foundations of the earlier church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

These framed icons include, naturally, an icon of the Holy Trinity, and an icon of the Virgin Mary said to have been found in the foundations of an earlier church when the present church was being built.

The top of the icon screen is crowned with a verse from Saint John’s Gospel that begins: ‘I am the light of the world …’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

The top of the iconostasis or icon screen is crowned with a verse from Saint John’s Gospel that begins: ‘I am the light of the world …’

The central door of the iconostasis has an icon portraying Christ present in the Eucharist (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

The central door of the iconostasis has an interesting image portraying Christ present in the Eucharist, with a symbol of the Holy Trinity above.

After visiting the church, we returned to the square in Kalamitsis Alexandrou and enjoyed Greek coffees at the Kafenion Kolymbos before returning to Georgioupoli for the last hours of the holiday.

The Kafenion Kolymbos in the square in Kalamitsis Alexandrou (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

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